No, my talents aren't on par with LeBron's, but yes, they went to South Beach this morning. The Miami International Triathlon was the first of WTC's new 5150 series of non-drafting, olympic distance racing. This wasn't why I signed up, I actually found that out after I decided to register. What did this mean? Well, the field size actually shrunk from what they had last year, and from what I expected. The $30 price increase that comes with the M-dot tag probably had something to do with that. However, it seemed to only trim the local, recreational participation numbers... the competition in the top half was just as fierce as previous years results indicate. Because of the massive amount of prize money at the US championships later in the year, the pro field was stacked (they're trying to earn enough points to qualify for it). Apart from the World Championships, this race had the strongest pro field of any race I've competed in. A 1:50 wouldn't get you top 10.
I really enjoyed this race. The weather was perfect, ~75 by the time I hit the run, which is just under the point where a winter's worth of training in Wisconsin's winter would be rendered useless. They started us (elite amateur wave) about 5 min after the pro women's wave, and 7 after the pro men. The swim was saltwater and wetsuit legal, so I suppose I was probably pretty buoyant. I know I'm faster in a wetsuit, because I've clocked myself in a pool with one, but one thing you kind of lose is your feel for the water. You just have to trust that you're getting a catch. My time of 19:27 on the swim indicated to me that yes, I was catching water even if I hadn't been sure during the swim. I did feel strong though, I didn't lose steam in the final 200-300 meters as I have in the past. Just kept on chugging, and swam a decently straight line. Coming out of the water, my parents told me that I was in 9th in my wave. This was motivating, I'm usually not that high out of the water at this caliber of race.
T1 included a 200m run into transition, so my time of 2:00 was actually one of the best in the race. Getting on the bike I was excited to test my indoor training and hopefully make up some ground. The bike course was two loops, first through the downtown area and then across a large bridge to Miami Beach (and South Beach). Everyone told me to expect a flat course, and for the most part it was, but this bridge (actually an interstate, first time biking on one of those!) had two quite large hills in each direction. Each lap was an out and back on this road, and with two laps it meant we had eight (8) grinders that were big enough to get in to the small ring and out of the aerobars towards the top. The pro's were saying that the new course this year was more challenging than last year's. Towards the end of the first lap, I passed the leading female elite amateur (and thought about how badly she must've killed me on the swim as I went by) As I went through the second lap, I knew I was moving up the field. It was hard to tell exactly where I was because we were going through the athletes on their first lap. I figured I was in 5th or 6th as I got off the bike. (Turns out I was in 6th) My bike split was a 1:00:57, which is excellent for this time of year. In the past, I have ridden at around 21-22mph off the trainer, but this was almost 25. I intend to drop this consistently as the year moves forward.
Getting off the bike my legs weren't exactly excited to run, but they weren't toast either. My lack of bricks due to the time of year was obvious, as my legs really kicked in around the 5k point. The run course was flat and fast, with a few turnarounds on each of the two laps. I enjoyed it, you got to see everyone and that keeps you motivated. I developed a side cramp in the final half mile or so that lasted ~2minutes, but my pace dropped from sub 6 to around an 8 minute mile. I managed to lose it for the final kick and saw my clock time listed at 2:00:07, with a 36:58 run. So close to breaking two hours, but a great PR for a true olympic distance race. My previous best time is in the 2:03's. Something my friend Jack Dudley says he does after a PR race is think about what you would have time to do while you wait for your former, slow self to finish the race. Today I probably could've done an easy sudoku, or perhaps eaten a small sandwich. Not quite the same as the movie I could've watched between my first and second half Ironmans, but I'll take it!
This is the sudoku I'm talking about, btw
A quick glance at the unofficial results told me that I had finished 6th overall in the amateur field. Sweet! My previous best finish at a race this caliber was 10th at Lifetime Fitness last year. Also, and more importantly, I was just ~2.5 minutes away from 3rd place, which is the final place that meets elite qualification. No official progress was made towards that goal today, since the winning pro was a 1:44 and I don't think any of the amateurs were within 8% of that, but definite progress was made. It's so close I can smell it now. Just makes me hungrier.
Well, after hanging out of awhile, deciding that I wasn't going to throw up or pass out, and getting my bike checked out of transition, it was time for awards. I knew I wasn't going up on stage because they just gave awards through 5th, but the top 10 qualify for the hy-vee championships later in the year. I already know that I'm not going to go this year since it doesn't fit in my schedule. However, my mom wanted the visor that they gave you in the registration packet, so I went over to the tent to grab it. Upon telling the guy my name, he looks at his sheet and says, "hmmm, don't see your name here" Ok.... how about checking the 25-29 age group then? "Nope, not listed in the top 10 here either" Weird. After walking away a bit confused, I decided to go check the referee's list of penalties. Maybe I got a drafting penalty? Which wouldn't make much sense as I don't stay in the 3 bike length draft zone more than 5 seconds to pass usually. When I checked the list I actually saw my number... My first penalty! Wow, big day for me. But it wasn't a drafting penalty.... instead it was an illegal pass.
When I saw it I knew exactly when I did it. There must've been a motorcycle right behind me. Not like I am purposely passing people on the right... I'm not that dumb. Here is what happened. Towards the end of my second lap, I was passing a bunch of guys on their first lap. This put me in the middle of the road with the people I'm passing on my right. As I'm going down the street at ~25mph, I come up on this person, by himself, riding in the middle of the road. (I really hope the guy at least gave him a blocking penalty too or something) So I'm about to go around him to the left but then someone started passing me on my left. Well, since this guy is in the middle of the road we can't fit two bikes to his left.... since he's going about 18mph I whip around his right, rather than slamming on my brakes. Did I technically break the rules? Yes. Was it really my fault? Probably not that much. Would I do it again? All it did today was add 2 min to my time (Officially 2:02:07) and drop me out of the top 10, which doesn't matter to me since I'm not doing Hy-Vee anyway. However, the scary part is if I had been in the top 3, it would've dropped me out of it... so I think next time this odd situation comes up, I'll probably just have to suck up the couple seconds of lost time.
This is an example of why it's important to pass correctly.
However, sometimes you have to think on your feet and bend the rules a bit to be safe
This weekend was great, both the race and getting to be in the perfect warm weather of Miami in the spring. I'm really excited for the season after this great opener. My next race is April 10th; a half ironman in Texas. Hopefully I'm not stuck inside till then!
PS. I'm going to bring a book with me to my next Ironman
PS. I'm going to bring a book with me to my next Ironman